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    CHINA UNRESERVEDLY SUPPORTS RUSSIA'S ANTI-TERROR EFFORTS-CHINESE AMBASSADOR

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    MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - China unreservedly supports all of Russia's counter-terrorism efforts, Chinese Ambassador Liu Guchang told a Moscow press conference Thursday.

    "We decidedly and unreservedly back all of your efforts and measures aimed at eradicating terrorism, at protecting your sovereignty, unity and security. We are giving you our full support without any reservations and preconditions," Liu said as he commented on the Kremlin's response to the Beslan school massacre.

    The Chinese Ambassador pointed out that his government approved of the Russian leadership's policies vis-a-vis Chechen rebels. "China will continue to support Russian in its fight with all terrorist forces, including the terrorists and separatists of Chechnya," Liu emphasized.

    The diplomat indicated that the stances of Russia and China on counter-terrorism issues were "almost identical." Both sides oppose terrorism in all forms and both are against the policy of double standards being applied to the anti-terror efforts of various nations.

    China has provided Russia with material as well as moral support following a series of terror attacks on Russian civilians, Liu recalled. Thus, for instance, the Chinese authorities has supplied 1,200,000 dollars' worth of medical equipment. The Chinese Red Cross Society has offered Russia $100,000 worth of humanitarian aid. And a group of top-qualified doctors and paramedics has been sent into the southern Russian town of Beslan to provide medical aid for the children wounded as a result of the recent hostage-taking crisis in a local school.

    Speaking of the forthcoming visit of the Premier of China's State Council, the ambassador said that during his sojourn in Russia, Wen Jiabao and Russian government officials were to agree on the agenda of a subsequent presidential summit in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

    According to Liu, the 3rd trilateral meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, China and India was initially planned to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's next session in New York City. But as it has turned, the three ministers will not be able to come to New York concurrently owing to prior engagements. This is why the meeting will have to be postponed until later this year, the Chinese Ambassador explained.

    Liu also announced that Russia and China were going to step up their work to put together an agreement on the mutual opening of consulates-general in the cities of Guangzhou and Yekaterinburg, respectively. He reminded his audience that the sides had agreed on the need for more consulates-general at a 1994 presidential summit, but had not since then been able to finalize the text of the agreement owing to some technical problems.

    According to the Ambassador, Russia and China presently have only a couple of consulates-general each-in Shanghai and Shenyang and in St. Petersburg and Khabarovsk, respectively. The operating consulates are too few to satisfy the two countries' needs, stressed the Chinese official.

    As he touched on Sino-Russian economic cooperation, Liu said bilateral trade may reach an annual $20 billion in 2004. Last year, the two countries saw their mutual commercial turnover come to $15,700 million, he recalled.

    "January through June 2004, bilateral trade amounted to $11,140 million, marking a 37.4 percent growth as compared with the same period of last year. By the end of this year, we expect our trade turnover to reach $20 billion," Liu said. The average annual rate of bilateral trade growth since 1999 is 25 percent, he added.

    Trade between China and some of the world's leading economies, such as Japan and the United States, amounts to an average $100 billion, Liu said. He went on to express hope that China would be able to increase its trade with Russia to that level, stressing the need for the Russian side to contribute its bit.

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